Back in November 2016, SportsCenter anchor Kevin Connors was looking through some college basketball scores as he prepared for the 11 p.m. ET show when a result caught his eye.
“Utah Valley University [of the WAC] beat BYU [WCC], 114-101,” said Connors, who is nearing his 10-year anniversary at ESPN. “And I said ‘What the heck is Utah Valley University?’ I’d never heard of them before.
“I thought it was really cool, they beat BYU, that’s gotta be a gigantic upset for that team and big news out there,” he said. “I mentioned them on the air that night and I just got fabulous feedback.”
Sensing an opportunity, Connors developed “K.C.’s Mid-Major Minute,” a report he does every night he hosts SportsCenter during the college basketball season. The segment is shot on-set and then shared via social media.
“As a former Division III college basketball player myself [at Ithaca College], it occurred to me that you know what? The game is played outside of Lexington and Chapel Hill,” he said. “And so I thought to highlight some of these other programs would be a really neat thing and it’s taken off from there.
“I’ve had enormous help from producers and directors, Kevin Davies, Jim Ryan and Dan Weiner in particular, who have been very generous with their time,” he said. “I’ve been really proud of the growth that it’s had on Twitter and social media.
“Another really cool thing is I’ve had programs and coaches reach out to me and say ‘Hey can you keep an eye on us’ and ‘We did this tonight’ or ‘Our guys did this,’’’ he said. “And I’ve developed relationships with some of the coaches and that’s been beneficial to SportsCenter.
“It’s not the next Mike & Mike,” he said. “But it is something to let people know that these small programs can be successful.
“In addition to what we do with our job, we can create content in other ways that people are still going to consume, and that’s been a big takeaway for me. It’s been a really neat vehicle.”